Narrative in Video Games #8: Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony

“Spectacle” is often used to describe an experience that is captivating in the moment, but often lacks the depth for any deeper interpretation. Video games more so than any other narrative medium can get away with shortchanging their narratives for a greater emphasis on visual and gameplay spectacle. A great example of spectacle over narrative substance lies in Final Form Games’ indie shoot ’em up Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony. An improved version under the title of “Jamestown+” was released on PlayStation 4 in 2015, but this article will be covering the 2011 Steam release.

Continue reading


Narrative in Video Games #7: Tomb Raider

Few franchises in gaming are as iconic as Tomb Raider. With a string of hit games in the late 90’s, Lara Croft dominated the action adventure genre, but the turn of the millennium brought with it a downturn in both sales and quality which finally forced the series to go dormant in 2008. During the interim, another franchise heavily inspired by the tomb raiding of old rose to prominence: Uncharted. So when it finally came time for Lara Croft to make her long awaited return in the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, the odds were stacked against her. So how does the reboot fare?

Continue reading

Narrative in Video Games #6: Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty

The Ratchet & Clank series is unique when it comes to platformers for focusing less on the actual platforming, and more on destroying everything in your path with a vast arsenal of unique weapons. The formula hasn’t changed much since Ratchet & Clank’s 2002 debut, but with such a solid foundation it doesn’t necessarily need to. Perhaps the series’ biggest distinction is its approach to narrative with colorful characters and emotional storylines earning comparisons to Pixar films. This focus on narrative gave way to the Future series, which brought us today’s subject: Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty.

Continue reading

Narrative in Video Games #4: The Walking Dead: 400 Days

The Walking Dead is a comic series that gained mainstream prominence with a successful television series currently in the midst of its sixth season. For gamers, however, it brings to mind a series of episodic adventure games from acclaimed developer Telltale Games. With a miniseries on fan-favorite character Michonne starting this past week and a third season scheduled for later this year, I thought I’d take a step back and look at some of the earlier episodes in this growing game series.

Continue reading

Narrative in Video Games #2: Yo‑Kai Watch and Metaphor, Part One

When Yo‑Kai Watch released mid-July 2013 in Japan it was met with only moderate success. It had strong first week sales, but sales dropped and the public moved on to the next game… or so you would think. An anime adaptation premiered six months later and became an instant hit with audiences. Fresh interest in the franchise propelled sales of the sequel past Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire by more than half a million units in 2014. A lucrative new franchise was born and expectations were high for the long-awaited North American localization released in November 2015. Did Western gamers get the “Pokémon Killer” they were promised?

Continue reading

Narrative in Video Games #1: Flower

How do you effectively challenge audience preconceptions? This is a question that many artists face when pushing the boundaries, but what if the audience preconception is to ignore your work entirely? This is the challenge faced by writers in the gaming industry.

Anyone that’s spent any amount of time in the gaming community is bound to come across some variation of the phrase “story doesn’t matter.” Video games are an interactive medium, so gameplay has to be the most important part, right? While this is true in many respects, it is the narrative that contextualizes that gameplay. For the first in this series about video game narrative, we’ll be looking at the 2009 PlayStation Network game, Flower.

Continue reading